By Andrea Swayne
The invitation-only Surfing America Prime regular season came to an exciting conclusion May 7 and 8 at Del Mar Beach on Camp Pendleton, finishing the 2015-2016 season where the tour first kicked off eight years ago. And although the names on the heat sheets have changed over the years, the series once again featured an impressive lineup of the country’s best U18 talent.
In a tight race for season champion titles, surfers put their best feet forward for the final contest of the six-event season. Local surfers took top honors in three of five divisions.
San Clemente’s Kade Matson took the Boys U14 division champion title, rising to the top with a runner-up performance behind Dimitri Poulous (Ventura), 11.06 to 12.37, respectively.
Cole Houshmand, also from San Clemente, was crowned season champion following his winning performance in the event’s Boys U16 final, beating Noah Hill of Venice, 13.10 to 12.70.
Despite finishing in second place in the event behind Micky Clark (Ventura), the Boys U18 season championship title was claimed by Carlsbad’s Jordan Collins. Collins and Clarke tied in the final with 12.33 points, and Clarke came out on top with a high single wave score of 8.5 over Collins’ 7.10. The Boys U18 season title race was extremely tight, with Jake Marshal of Encinitas ending the year only 75 points behind Collins.
In Girls U16 competition, Alyssa Spencer of Carlsbad finished with a perfect season (four of six event results count), taking her fourth win of the year. Kirra Pinkerton of San Clemente turned in a second-place finish in the final.
Caroline Marks (San Clemente), a Florida transplant, was crowned the Girls U18 champion, taking the event win over fellow San Clementean Kirra Pinkerton, 14.66 to 10.10.
Greg Cruse, executive director for the San Clemente-based Surfing America, said holding the sixth event of the season at Camp Pendleton, where the series kicked off back in 2008, was a great way to end the year, and the present caliber of talent bodes well for the organization’s future.
“What was started as a means for Surfing America to give the best junior surfers in the country preparation to compete at the pro level with four-man, 20-minute heats, computer scoring, professional judges and now the addition of four-man priority, will soon become the training grounds for future Olympians as we have applied for USOC membership and surfing is on track to be announced as an Olympic Sport in Tokyo 2020,” Cruse said. “We now have seven surfers who came up through the Surfing America Prime Series, USA Surfing Championships at Lower Trestles and USA Junior Surf Team, on the World Surf League Championship Tour: Courtney Conlogue, Kolohe Andino, Nat Young, Lakey Peterson, Sage Erickson, Kanoa Igarashi and Conner Coffin. The Surfing America Prime ranks are still chock-full of up-and-coming talent. The system is working and the future looks bright for surfing in America.
Surfing America Prime, Event No. 6, May 7-8, Camp Pendleton, DMJ
BOYS U14: 1. Dimitri Poulos, Ventura; 2, Kade Matson, San Clemente; 3. Taro Watanabe, Ventura; 4. Dane Matson, San Clemente. BOYS U16: 1. Cole Houshmand, San Clemente; 2. Noah Hill, Venice; 3. Tyler Gunter, Newport Beach; 4. Sage Burke, Newport Beach. BOYS U18: 1. Micky Clarke, Ventura; 2. Jordan Collins, Carlsbad; 3. Jake Marshall, Encinitas; 4. Eithan Osborne, Ventura. GIRLS U16: 1. Alyssa Spencer, Carlsbad; 2. Kirra Pinkerton, San Clemente; 3. Rachel Presti, Florida; 4. Caroline Marks, San Clemente. GIRLS U18: 1. Caroline Marks, San Clemente; 2. Kirra Pinkerton, San Clemente; 3. Samantha Sibley, San Clemente; 4. Autumn Hays, Santa Cruz.
May 14-15: WSA West Coast Championships, San Onofre State Park, Church Beach
May 19-22: NSSA West Coast Championships, Huntington Beach, Pier
June 4: Soul Surf Series, Championship, San Onofre State Park, Church Beach
June 9-12: Surfing America USA Championships, all longboard, adult, SUP and adaptive divisions, Oceanside Harbor, North Jetty
June 20-23: Surfing America USA Championships, all youth shortboard divisions, San Onofre State Park, Lower Trestles
June 11-13: NSSA National Interscholastic College, High School and Middle School Championships, Dana Point, Salt Creek Beach
June 26-July 3: NSSA Open, Explorer and Airshow National Championships, Huntington Beach Pier